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August 05, 2004

Harrow house still being searched Thursday

Anti-terrorist police were still searching a house in Harrow Thursday, following the latest series of nationwide raids in which 13 people, described as Asians, were arrested on Tuesday, The Muslim News reports.

There was no mention in the mainstream press of the Harrow location being targeted but The Muslim News saw at least four forensic experts still working at 8.30 and then at 10.00am (when they were taking a tea break) this morning.

The family was still nowhere to be seen and neighbours remained reluctant to talk to the media because of the publicity. But on Wednesday morning some expressed their surprise at the police action. “They are very nice and honest people,” one family member told The Muslim News

The Muslim News had been told of the raid when friends of the family contacted the editor, saying that “we do not know why the police were raiding the house” at 6 pm on Tuesday evening. They also expressed their shock when one person was arrested, saying “they were innocent, peaceful and law-abiding people.”

All those arrested were Muslims, except one who was released within two hours in Willesden because "he was the wrong person who happened to be at the right place." Those arrested were from North West London (including Harrow), Bushey in Hertfordshire, Luton in Bedfordshire and Blackburn in Lancashire. There was also confusion about a search in Sudbury in whether it was in Suffolk or in Middlesex.

“The men have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism,” a police statement said on Tuesday. They have been arrested under Terrorism Act 2000.

“Only two of people have been convicted of terrorist related offence so far out of more than 600 arrests made in the past three years,” said Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed Versi. “This indicates that most of those arrested are innocent. The blanket raids have done a great damage to police-Muslim relation at a time when the help of various communities to counter terrorism is so vital,” added Versi.

The confusion in the media about the latest operation was reminiscent of the arrest of 10 Muslims in April, which was erroneously reported as being linked with a planned attack at Manchester United’s football stadium.

Michael Todd, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, has refused to accept that the April arrests were a blunder. Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on July 9, he insisted that the publicity about the operation “was not our making.” The chief constable agreed that the false reports was “hugely damaging.”

For further information contact us on 020 8863 8586 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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